I have received dozens of replies to my article yesterday on school curriculum and books; nearly 90 per cent of them against what I wrote, adopting a negative stance from the Ministry of Education and the curriculum reforms. Their positions were backed by the teachers association’s official statement made yesterday evening, referring to tens of Quranic verses omitted from school books!
Therefore, I have decided to dedicate this article to replying to some of the readers’ commentaries on my article.
In this discourse, the Minister’s press conference seems to have set apart facts on the matter from fiction, in regards to the rumours and information deliberated by the public. This is an important assumption, particularly in regards to the allegations that have spread throughout social media, in order to concise the dialogue between respectively concerned parties; the Ministry, the Teachers Association, and specialists, and leave out the noise.
Second, my article was based on the fact that the Minister had named a number of prominent independent scientists on the Arabic books review committee, including Dr Mahmoud Sartawi, Dr Sleiman Dqour, and Dr Khalid Karaki as chairman. So, I will put off the discussion of certain aspects until I had met with them, especially I have heard they personally have made a bundle of recommendations and denotations to the committee.
Whoever, to begin with, evidently, both sides of the debate raise fundamental questions to the respective parties’ attention that I would like to bring to the table.
First, if the Association’s statement is true, why did the Minister avoid it in the press conference? Is it because he is unconvinced it is true? Or is it because he is scared the deletion would be misinterpreted? If that were true, then who is in charge, and has the capacity as well, to defend these amendments and reforms, to clarify the views and ideas behind these “reforms”, in order to face up to public opinion and lay all the facts out there, in totality, instead of the partial representation of the reforms?!
Similarly, the second question is addressed to the Association, who prepared a list of verses and Hadiths that were deleted, without providing a scientific, comprehensive overview of context, substituted material, nor their own vision of how the curriculum and books should be developed. Is the quantity of Quranic verses and Hadiths in school books at all important? Or is it the quality? Is it not possible to teach less Quranic chapters and contents? Include less verses with clearer meanings, suitable to the students’ ages? Is that not better than filling books with and overly exaggerated amount of verses with the readers totally devoid of deep, accurate, thorough understanding of these verses?
Third; to those who fear the supposed diminishing of the “Islamic Identity” in school books: which Islamic identity are we talking about here? Is the Islamic identity rigid and fixed or is it subjectively interpreted by individuals? Or are we talking about a modern Islamic identity that is capable of instituting the required composition of faith, science, values, and reality?! Is the Islamic value measured by quantity or the quality of specifications?!
On a broader scale, much of the amendments to school books remains experimental and partial. Yet I’m talking here about the scientific input we should be hearing from specialists who are supposed to have gone deeper than scratching the surface of partialities and quantities all the way to scientific processing of the efforts led to develop our curriculums civilly and culturally, in order to capacitate our education process with the needed tools to raise education from the swamp it has fallen into. And in this regard, it seems to me that the battling is taking place in all the wrong spheres, being ideologised and indoctrinated by all parties involved in the baffle!
Finally, one particular comment caught my attention. In summary, it says we discuss our prayers on going into the toilet, but no one actually thinks about going to the restrooms in public schools to see if any one actually goes there!
What is required now is the reformation of the totality of the education system, for it is deteriorated on several fronts and tiers.